• Silvia Forte

There are bunnies on the moon - Happy Tsukimi!

A cute wagashi with Tsukimi theme

Happy Tsukimi everyone! It's my first time been here in Japan and on particular day.

You do not know what Tsukimi is? I will try explain what is it with my ally and traveling companion, the food.


Tsukimi means nothing more than “looking at the moon.” But the Japanese custom of holding special moon-viewing parties, in autumn, in particular, dates back over a thousand years.

Traditionally it was a way of expressing gratitude for a good harvest and hopes for similar bounty in the future. On the old lunar calendar, the full moon appeared on the fifteenth night (jūgoya) of each month. The best night in the year for observing the celestial body is said to be the fifteenth night of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, known as jūgoya no tsukimi. In 2019, this is September 13...but it was so cloudy that the moon seemed to play hide and seek with us.

Bunny "While enjoy the round moon, do you want a Tsukimi dango?"

The custom of moon viewing came from China. The aristocrats of the Heian period enjoyed moon-viewing parties at which they played music and composed poetry. Tsukimi had come to be a popular practice even among commoners and was closely associated with autumn festival traditions involving thankful offerings of freshly harvested rice to the gods.

Nowadays you can spot during the Tsukimi some stands decorated with offerings as rice dumplings called tsukimi-dango and fruits.

Tsukimidai at Kagetsu ryokan with offers

On the Tsukimidai the 15 or 12 round rice dumplings represent the full moon. The shape is also considered to be auspicious and eating tsukimi-dango is said to bring health and happiness. One tradition is to display 15 dumplings to match the fifteenth night, while another calls for 12 dango, one for each of the months. It depends also on how many you can eat the day after the tsukimi, people eat the dumplings with soy sauce and salt. (I am hoping to be there to eat them all).

Near the Tsukimi dango, you can find autumnal produce such as pumpkin, grape or taro and five or ten plumes of pampas grass called susuki that represent the bounty of rice plants, which they resemble.

In its simplicity it is very beautiful

And this is Tsukimi! What? Am I forgetting something? Oh, you are right, the bunnies on the moon!

No, I am not crazy or dreaming and I will show you.

Different sweets in bunny shapes

Did you see them? A lot of sweet bunnies!

The tsukimi-dango usually have the shape of bunnies, why? For japanese people if you look at the moon you can see the image of a rabbit pounding mochi rice cakes with a mallet. Another theory is that it is a play on the word mochizuki, meaning “full moon,” which also sounds like the word for pounding mochi.

That's why you can find a lot of bunny decorations in the streets of the city, in the shops and in houses.

This year the Tsukimi was on Friday 13th, in my culture this day is the day of bad luck, but with today I have re-evaluated it.


Information of the event

・NAME: Tsukimi "moon-viewing"

・Date&time: The celebration of the full moon typically takes place on the 15th day of the eighth month of the traditional Japanese calendar; the waxing moon is celebrated on the 13th day of the ninth month. These days normally fall in September and October of the modern solar calendar.